Teachers voted unanimously to voice their support for Schools OUT and LGBT History Month at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Conference over the Easter weekend.
They also agreed to campaign for the recording and reporting of homophobic and transphobic incidents in schools; a national training programme for equality and diversity training for teachers and working with other groups such as Love Music hate Homophobia (LMHH) to combat prejudice and divisive groups such as the English Defence league (EDL)
They also condemned compulsory deportation of LGBT asylum seekers from the UK. This follows our intervention in the case of Felix Wamala, a gay Ugandan who the Borders Agency tried forcibly to repatriate on Christmas Eve. Deborah Gwynn of St Helens Association spoke of the similar plight of Indian lesbian Amanpreet Kaur, who was to have been deported last month and probably would have been had it not for campaigners’ and trades unionists’ intervention.
Other speakers for the motion that supported our work – debated on Easter Monday – included LGBT Advisory Committee (AC) Chair Dave Brinson (pictured), who congratulated Annette Pryce (Buckinghamshire Division Secretary) for being the first LGBT member to be elected to the NUT executive’s new LGBT reserved place, before announcing he was going to marry his partner next month – adding, “and I don’t care what anybody else calls it.”
Fakenham and Dereham Equalities Officer Nick O’Brien praised the work of supportive groups such as Schools OUT, LGBT History Month and Love Music Hate Homophobia, as well as congratulating Schools OUT and NUT member Elly Barnes (pictured) on her fantastic achievement of reaching Number One in the Independent’s Pink list.
Tony Fenwick, co-chair of Schools OUT and LGBT History Month – as well as being NUT Equalities Officer for Luton (pictured) – reminded everyone that the struggle for LGBT equality is everybody’s struggle for equality and asserted the need to present an inclusive and united front.
LGBT motions have been passed by Conference over many successive years, but this was the first to be passed unanimously.
After the motion the NUT’s General Secretary Christine Blower (pictured) commented: “Homophobic bullying and attitudes in schools impact on every child and young person in school. If children hear language or ideas which are negative about gay and lesbian people and this is not challenged by teachers, they learn that homophobia is tolerated and normal in their community.
“Schools must be safe places for all staff and all students. All schools will have lesbian, gay or bisexual young people whether they have so identified publicly or not. Very many schools will have LGBT staff who may fear what the consequences will be if they came out. This is not what a safe school should be like.
“Very many local authority equalities officers have lost their job due to Government cuts. This is a disgrace and will undermine the support available to schools to challenge negative attitudes and prejudice.”